A day off at the Tour de France: Not exactly restful
Tour de France cyclists still head out for a ride and juggle press conferences and massages. Back in the day, riders had 14 days off and some even swam in the Mediterranean.
There’s no racing today at the Tour de France: the cyclists – from race leader Thomas Voeckler to last-placed Andrey Amador – have a much-needed day off.
It is the second of two rest days during this three-week Tour, which ends next Sunday in Paris.
This strategically placed pause is a chance for riders and team staff to recharge before the grueling Alps stages later this week.
It will be far from a spa day, however.
On rest days, cyclists keep a busy schedule. It’s just a lighter version of their race routine: riding bikes, talking to press, and trying to stay off their feet. Sometimes, though, routines are interrupted.
Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha, a rider for Team Sky, couldn’t have guessed he’d spend part of the first rest day in a hospital.
But after being clipped by a French television car during last Sunday’s Stage 9, he was on the doctor’s table being examined for broken bones, not in the saddle, during his team’s rest-day ride.
“You’d like to keep the routine, of course, but this morning I had other things to do besides ride my bike,” he told the Monitor last Monday.
It could have been worse for Flecha. The first fatality in Tour history happened on a rest day in 1910 – France’s Adolphe Hélière was stung and killed by a jellyfish while swimming in the Mediterranean.
A typical day
Jellyfish and crashes aside, a typical rest day starts with a training ride. Each team will pedal for about two hours; that's a walk in the park compared to a typical five-hour Tour stage.